This is the perfect holiday for those who want to combine a city break with outdoor pursuits. Tromsø is a city renowned for its stylish shops and hectic nightlife and I was pleased to sample a little of this while I was there. As this was a short trip, I wanted to make sure I crammed in as much as possible and took advantage of all the fabulous excursions. Without a doubt, husky dog sledding was one of the best things I have ever done! As soon as we arrived in Tromsø, we made our way to the dog sledding centre at Villmarkssenter where we were provided with thermal suits and boots. Although not the most fetching of outfits, you will be grateful for them, as to say it gets a bit chilly in these parts is a definite understatement! For an hour we were whisked over the snow-topped landscapes and were privy to some spectacular views over the city. After a visit to the dogs and pups at the husky farm, we were treated to a traditional Sámi meal of reindeer stew and chocolate cake. Full and in need of some relaxation after all the excitement of the husky sled, we returned to the hotel to await the arrival of the Trollfjord ship. It was amazing to be able to watch it dock from the viewing gallery at the hotel. Just after 1am we boarded the ship and began the first day of the voyage.
I am a true culture vulture, so the Hurtigruten Museum at Stokmarknes was an absolute treat and the Finnmarken ship, docked next to the museum, proved a fascinating spectacle. The first day on board was an absolute delight and sailing along the beautiful Raftsund, between the Vesteralen and Lofoten Islands is a memory that will remain with me forever. That evening, we stopped at the Ice Bar in Svolvaer, which boasts the most incredible ice sculptures and some of the tastiest refreshments. I also fulfilled one of my lifelong ambitions when the Northern Lights appeared - they were even more breathtaking than I could ever have imagined. The lights made another appearance the subsequent evening and I am so glad I had my camera at the ready, because they were even more astounding the second time around.
During the second day of the voyage, we crossed the Arctic Circle and be warned: one of the local traditions is to drink a spoonful of cod liver oil from a silver spoon as the ship crosses the circle. Each participant in this ritual keeps the spoon - a thoughtful memento of an incredible trip. There were many picturesque points during the voyage and passing the majestic peaks of the Seven Sisters was particularly enjoyable.
I would highly recommend the Taste of Vesteralen excursion, which sees you disembarking the ship at Harstad for a guided tour of the town. We stopped at the white medieval church at Trondenes, which is conveniently just next door to the Historical Centre with its assortment of Viking and medieval treasures. Back on board we enjoyed incredible views of the fjords as the ship made its way to Hinnoya Island.
You should, of course, make sure you have your camera to hand at every opportunity on this fantastic voyage but, in my opinion, you should also take the time to just sit back and enjoy the stunning views. You can find more information about this trip and similar breaks with the Mighty Fine Company at Holidays in Norway.